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Callanan threat, Rebel rising & managing weight of history - Tipperary v Cork talking points

The counties lock horns in today’s Munster senior hurling quarter-final at Semple Stadium.

THE MUNSTER SENIOR hurling championship bursts into life this afternoon, with a traditional Tipperary-Cork clash at Semple Stadium.

Tipperary, as provincial champions, are aiming for a first Munster three-in-a-row since achieving that feat from 1987-89.

Cork are the visitors to Semple Stadium for a 4pm throw-in, and are 3-1 outsiders ahead of the trip to Tipp.

Tipperary's Michael Ryan and Cork's Kieran Kingston (centre) were selectors when the counties met in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final. Now, they're the respective team managers. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Cork haven’t beaten Tipperary in the championship since 2010, and have lost each of the four summer meetings between the counties since then.

But this fixture has often thrown up a surprise result, and Cork will look to build on their League win when the counties met in March.

Here, we take a look at the main talking points ahead of today’s game…

1. Rebel rising on the cards?

Patrick Horgan (left) and Brian Lawton following League victory over Tipperary in March. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Cork showed enough in League victory over Tipp at Páirc Uí Rinn back in March to suggest that they can trouble Tipp – but doing it in the championship is another question entirely.

When the counties met at the quarter-final stage last year, Tipp won at their ease.

In the second half, Cork found themselves 11 points adrift and it was a stroll in the park for the Premier.

But Cork were coming into that game on the back of a disappointing League campaign, which saw them lose all five Division 1A group fixtures before surviving relegation with victory over Galway.

Cork’s 2017 League campaign was more encouraging, with three victories from six outings, including the Tipperary win.

And the Rebels will have picked apart Tipp’s heavy League final loss to Galway in recent video analysis, identifying areas they’ll hope to exploit.

2. Tipp hold the Indian sign over Cork

Patrick Horgan celebrates scoring his second goal Patrick Horgan scored 2-2 against Tipperary in 2010 - but the Rebels haven't beaten their old rivals since then in championship hurling. Source: Cathal Noonan

In 2010, Cork inflicted a ten-point defeat on Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the Munster quarter-final.

But Tipp have won the four championship clashes between the counties since then, and by an aggregate 28 points.

  • 2011 – Tipperary 3-22 Cork 0-23 – Munster SHC quarter-final
  • 2012 – Cork 0-24 Tipperary 1-22 – Munster SHC semi-final
  • 2014 – Tipperary 2-18 Cork 1-11 – All-Ireland SHC semi-final
  • 2016 – Tipperary 0-22 Cork 0-13 – Munster SHC quarter-final

The hope in Cork is that Kieran Kingston’s emerging young team can bridge the gap, but Tipp’s dominance of recent fixtures has diluted the traditional rivalry that exists between the counties.

Indeed, when asked about that rivalry for an interview to feature in today’s official matchday programme, Cork’s Mark Ellis notes that the county’s main foes were Waterford in the noughties when he was growing up.

Victory for a developing Cork team would spark another potential era of famous clashes between the teams.

3. Stopping Seamus Callanan

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Cork must shut down Tipperary dangerman Seamus Callanan if they harbour realistic hopes of winning this game.

In six championship outings against the Rebels, the Drom & Inch hitman has racked up 3-24.

His biggest individual match haul was a stunning 2-4 in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final and last year, in the Munster quarter-final, Callanan split eight points between play and placed balls.

Source: HappyPatricksDay2017/YouTube

Source: HappyPatricksDay2017/YouTube

Callanan also scored three points against Cork in 2008, 1-3 in the 2009 meeting, a point in 2010 and five points in 2011.

But Cork must obviously be conscious of not focusing too much attention on Callanan, as Tipp have other top forwards capable of wreaking havoc.

John McGrath and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer are other potentially lethal inside men, and will take some watching.

4. Cork’s tactics

William Egan William Egan was Cork's sweeper against Tipperary last year but the tactic didn't work. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

This leads us nicely to how Cork will set up. Last year, they opted for a sweeper in William Egan, who’s since been deemed surplus to requirements to manager Kieran Kingston.

In an interview with Patrick Horgan that we featured last November, the Glen Rovers attacker admitted that it was a tactic at odds with Cork’s hurling philosophy. 

In his in-depth post-game column following last year’s Tipp-Cork clash, The42‘s hurling columnist Tommy Dunne outlined how Tipp demolished Cork’s plan. 

But considering Seamus Callanan’s recent outings against Cork, as outlined above, it would be folly of Cork not to make plans for him.

Even in defeat at Páirc Uí Rinn during the League, Callanan helped himself to 2-6, including 2-1 from play.

Seamus Callanan Seamus Callanan posted 2-6 against Cork in March. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Kingston looks set to revert to a more traditional set-up for the championship but will surely ask his half-backs to sit deep and provide protection for the full-back line.

The key for Cork is to win enough primary possession around the middle third, and stem the flow of ball inside. Easier said than done, and while Kingston may also opt for a packed defence, he must get the balance right.

Allowing Tipp to go short with their puck-outs will allow Cork to drop deep, and he may take his chances on his defence holding out under an aerial bombardment.

The tactical element to this game will make for fascinating viewing, and Tommy Dunne will go into that in more detail next Monday.

5. Cork’s youthful exuberance

cork forwards Cork's young forwards Luke Meade, Shane Kingston and Michael Cahalane (left-right).

The exuberance and fearlessness of youth could be a major factor in Cork’s performance.

Luke Meade caught the eye during Mary Immaculate College’s march to Fitzgibbon Cup glory and he also impressed throughout the League.

The Newcestown clubman scored 2-7 in the campaign, including goals against Waterford and Limerick.

Shane Kingston, son of manager Kieran, was another to shine. Injury saw him miss out on the concluding stages of the League but early on, he posted 0-4 against Clare, 1-2 in victory over Dublin and a point in the Waterford win, which was arguably Cork’s most impressive display of the campaign.

Michael Cahalane is also back in the mix after it was feared that he would never hurl again. 

Straight away, there are three genuine forward options for Kieran Kingston, who also has the likes of Alan Cadogan, Patrick Horgan, Bill Cooper and Seamus Harnedy to call upon.

With the right supply of ball, Cork are capable of hurting any opposition but the issue is keeping scores to a minimum at the other end.

6. The weight of history on Tipperary

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Tipp haven’t claimed back-to-back All-Ireland titles since 1964/65 but manager Michael Ryan is hellbent on ending that long wait.

Ryan is running an even tighter ship this year and compared to the 2010 success, celebrations were far more sedate over the winter months.

At the start of the League campaign, Ryan flagged his desire to win the competition, but they came up badly short against Galway in the final.

While some major cracks were exposed, particularly in the corner back positions, Ryan will surely have taken a positive view of the Gaelic Grounds setback.

Michael Donoghue and manager Michael Ryan Michael Ryan congratulates Galway manager Micheál Donoghue following the Allianz League final. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Since then, he’ll have been busy looking to right the wrongs of that defeat and now it’s time for the serious business of championship hurling.

Over the last 50 years, Tipp haven’t handled All-Ireland defences very well. Indeed, having won the 2010 title, they had slumped to their heaviest championship defeat since the 1800s, with a humiliating 18-point reverse against Kilkenny in the 2012 semi-final.

Only time will tell if Tipp have learned the lessons of the past, and their fans will recognise that today is a good time to start exorcising old demons.

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